Rory McIlroy returns to Quail Hollow in North Carolina this week where he defends the Wells Fargo Championship against a world class field.

Rory McIlroy will tee it up this week at Quail Hollow and he will be joined by six further players from the top-12 on the Official World Golf Ranking. The others are: Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed and Justin Rose.

Founded by James J. Harris in 1959, Quail Hollow is a private member’s club, but it has been host to this tournament since 2003. There’s been an illustrious list of winners in the event.

David Toms came out on top in 2003 and, since then, Joey Sindelar, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair, Lucas Glover, Rickie Fowler, Derek Ernst and J.B. Holmes have been victorious.

Last year, Rory McIlroy turned on the style to win by seven shots. His third round 61 made the last day something of a lap of honour. Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson were runners-up.

McIlroy also won at Quail Hollow back in 2010 and he has three further top-10 finishes at the venue, including a playoff loss in 2012 when Rickie Fowler was victorious.

The course at Quail Hollow is a George Cobb design dating from 1961, it has been updated over the years by Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio. The renowned layout will host the USPGA Championship in 2017.

Although famed for its difficult finish, “The Green Mile,” the first part of the course is relatively straightforward and low scoring is possible – see Rory’s effort last year for confirmation of that.

There might be some rain to contend with early in the week, but the forecast is improving. Hopefully there will be little chance of a second straight weather-shortened tournament after last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans was reduced to 54 holes.

Venue: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina
Date: May 5-8
Course stats: par 72, 7,575 yards
Purse: $7,300,000 Winner: $1,314,000
Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy (-21)

Click here for the betsafe guide to strategic golf betting written by Fergus Bisset

TV Coverage:
Thursday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 9pm
Friday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 9pm
Saturday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm
Sunday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm

Player watch:

Rory McIlroy defends the Wells Fargo Championship and it’s difficult to look past the four-time Major champion. He’s won twice at Quail Hollow and finished in the top 10 on five of the six occasions he’s played.

Rory McIlroy on becoming a champion:

Patrick Reed – He might not have much form to speak of at Quail Hollow, but he’s one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour right now. He was second at the Valero Texas Open and that was his eighth top-10 finish of the season.

Hideki Matsuyama – His game should be suited to this track – he’s one of the Tour’s best ball strikers. He’s been playing solidly so far in 2016.

Key holes: 17th. A par-3 of 217 yards where the ball must be carried all the way to the green over water. When the pressure is on, this hole is bound to produce some drama.

Holes 16-18 here are known as “The Green Mile,” with the 18th the pinnacle of the challenge. It’s one of the hardest finishing holes on the PGA Tour, a 478 yard par 4, uphill with a creek on the left and bunkers on the right.

Skills required: Playing the par-5s. It’s imperative here to make the most of the four par-5s on the course. The winner will play the long holes well and pick up some shots. To do that they will have to drive the ball well.